Last week, The McGill Tribune published an op-ed criticizing upstairs neighbours for their “categorically inconsiderate” behaviour, such as bodybuilding, blasting music, and having loud sex. I was disappointed by Sydney King’s assertion that upstairs neighbours are inherently selfish and rude. In my time as a student in Montreal, I’ve lived on the first floor, the 11th floor, and most recently, the third floor of various apartment buildings, so I have a strong sense of the pros and cons of all living situations. As a current upstairs neighbour, I would like to clear a few things up.
King’s argument makes inaccurate claims about what upstairs neighbours are actually doing when you—the downstairs neighbour—hear late-night stomping. For example, they’re likely bodybuilding or playing indoor sports. While I cannot speak for all upstairs neighbours, in my own case, this is untrue. Personally, I have never touched a weight in my life, and I do not engage in team sports. What you’re hearing is probably just my nightly at-home Zumba workouts. There’s a difference. The former involves more throwing and catching, while the latter involves a lot of jumping and stepping. Regardless, I believe it’s well within my right to work out the way I choose, when I choose. A double standard exists between the upstairs and downstairs neighbours, with upstairs neighbours statistically far more likely to receive building complaints while exercising. The expectation that upstairs folks not get their sweat on from the comfort of their own homes is unfair.
King also asserts that upstairs neighbours have a propensity for loud music and hosting live concerts with Eminem himself. This is true in some cases—my old upstairs neighbours used to enjoy practicing their DJ sets at all hours—and I know how annoying it can be. But now that I’m an upstairs neighbour with a downstairs neighbour who works part-time from home as a piano teacher, I can confirm that this sonic relationship goes both ways. We, upstairs neighbours, can hear you blasting music too, and we do not appreciate being singled out and asked to take full responsibility.
As for the argument that upstairs neighbours have a propensity for having loud sex, this is a sweeping generalization, and one that is, quite frankly, none of your business. It’s possible that you’re hearing the cage of small pandas that I keep in my bedroom being let out to jump on the bed and engage in nightly play. You could also be hearing my sex noise machine—it's like a white noise machine, but instead it makes sex noises. I find them soothing. Either way, this is not for you to speculate on, so putting in earphones might be the best call.
It’s also important to keep in mind the many other sacrifices that upstairs neighbours make. During the summer, upstairs neighbours face the hottest indoor temperatures, because heat rises. Being closer to the sun, we’re also awoken by the brightest rays in the early morning. And during winter, many of us face steep, icy steps when entering and exiting the house. Being an upstairs neighbour is not all noisy rainbows and butterflies.
At the end of the day, all upstairs neighbours want is a positive relationship with our downstairs counterparts. Speculative accusations get in the way of this, and throwing around unfounded claims about our behaviour is not productive. Living upstairs comes with its own difficulties, and having to fend off attacks like this is just one of them.